You Still Have an Insurance Claim Even With Pre-Existing Injuries.
You should not hesitate to call a Utah car accident lawyer just because you have pre-existing injuries, conditions or have been in a prior car accident. Everyone as they age and go through the human experience has prior injuries or trauma. Let Utah car accident lawyer Jake Gunter help you demonstrate to the insurance company what injuries you sustained from your Utah car collision.
The Perfect Car Accident Plaintiff Myth.
There is no such thing as the perfect plaintiff in a car accident injury case. Some injured plaintiffs certainly have less pre-existing injury baggage than others—but everyone has some. Some otherwise good looking plaintiff’s have a substance abuse history riddled with in-patient treatments. Other injured parties are simply older and have a life long of bad knees, shoulders or backs.
At the end of the day, you work with what you got and ask for reasonable compensation for the injuries caused by the car accident. There is no such thing as the perfect plaintiff without any pre-existing injuries or baggage.
Utah Law on Pre-Existing Injuries and Your Car Accident.
Utah law has favorable proof standards for injured people who have pre-exiting injuries at the time of the subject car accident.
Utah law does not bar an injured plaintiff from recovering from a car accident simply because they had prior, ongoing symptoms and injuries. Utah law on injury damages states an injured plaintiff may recover for any new damages caused by the car accident and recover for aggravation of pre-existing injuries. You may recover for the aggravation of pre-existing injuries regardless of whether the prior injury was dormant or actively symptomatic at the time the accident occurred.
Utah Jury Instruction on Car Accident Cases.
The black letter law in Utah regarding pre-existing injuries is:
(1). The wrongdoer, at-fault person (defendant) is responsible for all injuries caused by the car accident.
(2). The at-fault person is responsible for any aggravation of pre-existing injuries, regardless of whether they were dormant or actively symptomatic when the car accident occurred.
(3). The at-fault person bears the burden of proving which injury they caused or didn’t cause if they are trying to state the plaintiff had pre-existing injuries.
(4). If the at-fault person is not able to make such an apportionment, the factfinder (jury or judge) must conclude that the entire harm to the injured plaintiff was caused by wrongdoer’s fault.
Pertinent Utah Jury Instructions on Damages to Jurors:
Jury Instruction CV2017 Susceptibility to injury.
“A person who may be more susceptible to injury than someone else is still entitled to recover the full amount of damages that were caused by [name of defendant]’s fault. In other words, the amount of damages should not be reduced merely because plaintiff may be more susceptible to injury than someone else.”
Jury Instruction CV2018 Pre-existing conditions.
“A person who has a pre-existing condition before the time of the car accident is not entitled to recover damages for that condition or disability. However, the injured person is entitled to recover damages for any aggravation of the pre-existing condition that was caused by the car accident, even if the person’s pre-existing condition made them more vulnerable to injury than the average person. This is true even if another person may not have suffered any harm from the event at all.”
The wrongdoer has the burden to prove what portion of the injured plaintiff was caused by the pre-existing condition.
If you are not able to make such an apportionment, then you must conclude that the entire harm to injured plaintiff was caused by wrongdoer’s fault.
Pre-Existing Injury Examples:
Old Sports Injury. You were a football player in college and had lumbar low back issues. You are now 40 years old and haven’t had back injuries since college. Your 2022 car accident on I-15 hurt your low back. The defense will try to say you had prior back injuries and that the car accident didn’t cause any new back injuries. It will be difficult for the insurance defense attorneys to claim you were not hurt from the car accident.
Two Car Accidents. You were rear-ended on Orem State Street severely causing you a head injury. Four months later you were t-boned on University Avenue in Provo aggravating your head concussion and setting your recovery back several months. You were in active concussion treatment at the time of the second car accident. You still have a very valid claim for damages from the second car collision, but will require a medical expert to apportion the injuries caused by the two car accidents.
Prior Knee Surgery. In 2018 you had orthoscopic ACL knee repair. You recovered for the most part but are in a car accident in 2020. The 2020 car accident caused your knee to hit the dashboard causing a PCL tear. Because the prior injury was not symptomatic at the time of the 2020 car accident and the new knee injury involved a different ligament, it will be difficult to state you should not receive any compensation.
Medical Apportionment in Your Utah Car Accident.
The injured party plaintiff must prove their damages and injuries by a preponderance of the evidence. The fact of damages and the extend of damages both must be proved by the injured party, but have different proof standards. The fact or occurrence of damages is by a preponderance of the evidence. The extend of damages is a lesser standard not as high as a preponderance of the evidence.
If pre-existing injuries exists the plaintiff should hire and provide admissible testimony showing what injuries came from the car accident and which injuries were pre-existing. Expert witnesses cost a lot of money. You can hire chiropractic physicians, nurse practitioners, medical doctors or retained expert witnesses to show medical causation that the car accident caused your injuries.